The Thriller Zone

On today's 126th episode of The Thriller Zone, I'm excited to welcome New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and #1 Amazon Bestselling Author of over two dozen riveting thrillers!

Bob's been a talent I've dreamt of having on the show for a very long time; at least since I launched this podcast nearly two years ago. Finally, we have time to sit down and discuss his prolific body of work. It includes: The Tracy Crosswhite police series, the Charles Jenkins espionage series, the David Sloane legal thriller series, plus several stand-alone novels.

But the Big News of Today is the launch of his fourth series starring Keera Duggan, a former chess prodigy who's recently left her job as a Seattle prosecutor after a romantic relationship with a senior colleague ended badly. She returns to her family's failing criminal defense law firm, which is being driven into the ground by her alcoholic father, in hopes of restoring her family's reputation and her career.

I'll save the rest of the details for YOU to discover. Just let me say, you won't be able to put this legal thriller down; it's flat-out fantastic! In fact, once you read Bob's work, you, like I, will quickly discover a favorite new author for your bookshelves. The book dropped yesterday (3.28), and you might as well order a copy now.

Episode Summary:

We discuss our mutual appreciation for the craft of writing, studying the works of great authors like Stephen King, and how Bob's background in law has taught him the importance of discipline in his writing routine. We explore the art of editing and the importance of cutting unnecessary content, as well as the challenges of quieting the inner critic while writing. We also discuss the process of weaving a chess game throughout a novel, the importance of adaptability and intuition in both the game and the legal profession, and the humbling experience of receiving praise from fellow authors. Finally, we share personal stories and powerful lessons learned from our fathers, the importance of following our dreams, and valuable advice for aspiring writers. Don't miss this heartfelt and captivating conversation!

To learn more about Bob visit: and follow him on Twitter @robertdugoni.

As always, we welcome you to SUBSCRIBE to our Channel @thethrillerzone, as well as FOLLOW up on both Twitter and Instagram @thethrillerzone, and of course visit our website:

(0:00:06) - Storytelling With Robert Dugoni
(0:05:28) - Exploring Family Dysfunction Through Storytelling
(0:17:40) - The Art of Editing
(0:28:15) - Benefits of Being Attorney
(0:37:10) - Following Your Dreams Writing

Chapter Summaries:
(0:00:06) - Storytelling With Robert Dugoni (5 Minutes)
Welcome to the Thriller Zone! In this episode, I have the pleasure of talking with Robert Dugoni about his latest Her Deadly game. Bob shares his work ethic, emphasizing the importance of working every day and how his background in law has taught him to be disciplined in his writing routine. We also delve into Bob's early love for storytelling, sparked by his experiences in seventh grade and his mother's influence in introducing him to literature at a young age.

(0:05:28) - Exploring Family Dysfunction Through Storytelling (12 Minutes)
In this captivating conversation, we delve into the origins of my passion for writing, starting with a speech on slavery in the seventh grade that left my classmates in stunned silence. We also discuss the various awards I've won, such as the Nancy Pearl Award for Fiction and the Friends of Mystery Spotted Owl Award, but highlight that my true gratification comes from receiving heartfelt emails from readers who've been touched by my stories.

(0:17:40) - The Art of Editing (11 Minutes)
Exploring the art of editing and the importance of cutting unnecessary content, we discuss how the process of writing organically and letting characters guide the story can lead to surprising results. We also touch on the challenges of quieting the inner critic while writing and learning from the structure and emotional moments in storytelling. Furthermore, we dive into the process of weaving a chess game throughout a novel, highlighting the importance of adaptability and intuition in both the game and the legal profession.

(0:28:15) - Benefits of Being Attorney (9 Minutes)
Diving into the relationship between being an attorney and a skilled novelist, we discuss the importance of storytelling in both professions. From courtroom dramas to compelling novels, the ability to captivate an audience and tell a story is crucial. However, not every lawyer is a good novelist, and the key to success lies in hard work, dedication, and the ability to take advice. 

(0:37:10) - Following Your Dreams Writing (9 Minutes)
We share personal stories and the powerful lessons learned from our fathers. We discuss how loyalty, following our dreams, and not waiting to pursue passions have shaped our lives and careers. As the discussion comes to a close, we share valuable advice for aspiring writers, emphasizing the importance of learning the craft of writing to save time, avoid pain, and create well-rounded characters.

The Story Factory is an entertainment company representing some of the best authors in the business.

What is The Thriller Zone?

Podcast host and thriller author David Temple gives you a front-row seat to the best thriller writers in the world. If you like thriller fiction in Books, Movies, and TV Shows, you’ll love The Thriller Zone Podcast.

Transcript with Robert Dugoni on The Thriller Zone with David Temple is generated by

Hello, and welcome to the thriller Zone. I'm your host David Temple. And I am very pleased to welcome Robert Dugoni. Today, we're gonna be talking about his latest Her Dead League game. Let's get right to it.

With Bob right here in the thriller zone. Man, I cannot believe how long Bob it has been since you have been on my radar. Oh, wow. Thank you. First no. Thank you for being on the thriller zone, by the way. Let me start with that. Thanks. But, yeah, I I literally I had been watching you from a distance for probably a year and a half.

The show is a year almost two years old. And I thought, yeah, this guy right here, this guy is doing it. He knows what he's doing. I wanna get him on the show. And I tried a couple of times and Yeah. I know. Bob's a Bob's a rock star. You can't get to him. So That's not true. No. It's not I'm kidding. But anyway, the planet's aligned and we're here and I'm very excited. I'm I'm telling a contractor that I can't come to the door right now.

Well, first of all, we're gonna be talking about this beautiful book. There's all kinds of little yellow stickies and highlights and all three of because I'm like a kid who's studying for an exam when I read. I read mostly for pure pleasure, but then I go back and I go, wait a minute. He said something here or he said this here, and how did he craft that sentence? And I just love that stuff. Oh, thank you. Yeah. No. I I kinda do the same thing. I I read books sometimes. And I put a tag and I think say to myself, wow, where did he come up with that analogy or metaphor as like blown away? Yeah. Isn't it funny? As as many books as you've written it, we're gonna do a little bullet list here in a second. It's it's really encouraging to hear a guy like you go. Oh, that captivated me because I hadn't heard it put that way or he crafted that sentence just a certain way. It's magic, isn't it? Yeah. It's it's I'm I really appreciate the craft, you know. I because I've studied it so hard because I I couldn't get published until I did. And so the people that really, they hit it so well. Stephen King is I'm a fan because sometimes I'll read a sentence he's written and it just it just amazes me. Yeah. And the amazing thing about Steven is how he does it again and again and I mean, and nobody's got volume of words like that guy. Yeah. Yeah. And he and you're right. It's just it's just constant. He's just bam bam bam bam. Yeah. Yeah. He's he's amazing. He's really amazing.

Well, let's keep the spotlight on you because, Bob, you know, New York Times bestseller, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and number one Amazon best selling author. That's that's in and of itself no little feed. Thank you. And I know one of my little stickies here. Hold on a second because I love this shit. I'm like, what is what's Bob's recipe for success. So I'm reading it back in your acknowledgments. And I think you got it right here.

I work every day. I I do. And I and I think I think that's really important. You know, people ask me all the time what did What did the law profession teach you? And I tell them they taught me how to put my butt in a chair every day and go to work. I'm not I'm not one of those guys that you know, works. That's those are my dogs. I'm not one of those guys who works part time. Yeah.

And then suddenly, I I really David, I'm sorry, but I just realized I gotta turn off the dog door. Otherwise, they're gonna scare the workers. Go right ahead. My words. Looks like a good time to take a short break. We'll be back with more Bob Dugoni right here on the thriller zone. Stay with us. The best fillers. The fillers.

And now back to the show. The best best laid plans I I told these guys I can't talk to you after ten o'clock and when did they show up ten o'one? So I I apologize. Really, I'm sorry. You know, I was saying David that I I do, I go to work every day, and I and I take some pride in that. To be honest with you. Now, it's it's certainly not a a a chore because I love what I do. Sure. And I'm one of those few people that is really blessed to be able to make a living at what I really love to do, and and I don't take that lightly or for granted. I would love to start off the show because I just discovered this within the last probably last night or today. I love there's this story, and it's I wanted to ask how long you've been riding and in order to tee that up, I ran across the story that you're talking to someone about a moment in Seventh grade when you knew that you were gonna be a storyteller. Would you share that with my audience? Yeah. I would. Actually, thanks for asking me.

You know, I I fell in love with books at a very early age. I'm one of ten kids. My mom, I think, was just tired and beleaguered and she take us to the library because it was a place where other people would tell us to shut up. And I fell in love with books. She's you know, my monk started handing me these great books, like the count of Montecristo and the Old Man in the Sea, and I was reading them at, like, twelve years of age.

So when I got into the seventh grade, I had to write a a speech on slavery from the position of an abolitionist. And I don't know what compelled me to do it, but I decided to write it as if I was an actual abolitionist and when I got up to give the speech, you know, everybody in my class just just sat there, stunned silence, and I like to tell you that my grammar school teacher a a nun gave me the finger. And it's, you know, it's the the one where she curls her fingers has come outside. You're in trouble. Yeah. I I was sucked. I thought I was going to the principal's office and she took me to the classroom next door and took me to the front of the class and said, give your speech. And I just knew at that moment, and I just thought, wow, this is really cool. This this is I this is what I wanna do. I wanna write things that, you know, have an emotional resonance. I mean, obviously, I wasn't thinking that in the seventh grade, but I Yeah. That's what I wanted to do.

Well, and it shows I mean, I'm looking at your track record between Tracy Cross White, a police series, the Charles Jenkins, SPNICE series, David Sloane legal thriller, and then stand alone novels. But then I think about awards. And, you know, a lot of people get cats on the back or they win this, that, and the other. But you won the Nancy Pearl War Trifiction And here's one of my favorites. And and, excuse me, I'm not laughing at it. I'm laughing at my ignorance. A three time winner of the Friends of Mist three spotted owl award for best novels set in the Pacific Northwest, and I thought to myself, now that is specificity as it that's best. Tell me about that award. It it sure is. It sure is. And they're they're a great group and they're they're great. They have these awards.

I'll be really honest though. If I won an award, I I'd be very happy, but that's never been the thing that's kinda floated my boat. You know, I always what plus my vote is just getting the story out there and letting letting people read it and and then hearing from readers. So, you know, it's it's great. It's a great pat on the back, but the real thrill comes when you you start receiving very personal emails from readers who you realize were really touched by what you wrote, and that's something that I never expected in my life. You know, I I never expected that really. And so when that happens, it's very humbling. It's a really humbling experience. You know, somebody will tell you, we gathered around my brother's bed as he was dying from pancreatic cancer. And read the extraordinary life of Sam held to him. I mean, if that doesn't bring tears to your eyes as a as a writer, I don't I don't know what will but I received those kind of emails all the time. And to me, those are really the awards.

I just discovered that book. I I apologize for not knowing about it sooner, but that was an early on book. And I read the blurb on it on your website, and I thought, what is what an extraordinary story? And of course, I've got to go dig into it now. So thank you for adding to my Starry.

Is it true that I read yet has been adapted? Is it being put out in Hollywood or was that Yeah. I've I've I've had a couple of things. The the Charles Jenkins espionage series is over at CBS Studios right now, and they're looking for a writer The extraordinary life of Sam Hell was picked up by a really well known woman that's now independent used to be with Universal Studios. And she has a screenwriter that's working on a screenplay for it. And Tracy Crosswright is drawing quite a bit of interest. So you know, it's one of those things people I'll I've heard people say, you you take your you take the check they send you and you plug your nose because you never know whether the the the film or the series is gonna do the book's justice or not. So we'll see, you know, I I would love to see things get on screen, but I hope they get on screen the right way. Yeah.

I had a great conversation with Mark Rainey not long ago, and he he put it best when he said someone was saying, oh, they they made a comment at a in a function and said, oh, man, I'm really sorry, Mark. The gray man, the movie, didn't really quite turn out like your book, and he's like, I thought it was great. Yeah. First of all, that was great. Second of all, I wrote the book that I wanted to write, Hollywood gets to tell the story they want to tell. And you're exactly right. Yeah. I mean, that's that's a hundred percent true. I heard Jeffrey Deavor when when they did the bone. I think it was the bone collector or the Yeah. And and he was watching the premier and there, you know, Denzel Washington's laying in bed and in comes this woman and he says, who who is that? They said, that's his sister. Anyway, he has a sister, you know, and he wrote the book. So I think, you know, I you're right.

Storytellers have get to choose what's they're gonna tell. And television has its limitations, you know, you know that screenplays are usually like a hundred and twenty pages. And they're gonna take a four hundred page book and try to condense it down. And so it's a real art. It's a real skill. I've been asked multiple times. Do you wanna write a screenplay, my answer is always the same. No. I don't. Because I respect the people that do that for a living. They go to school a long time to to learn those skills. And those are not skills that I have.

Well, and it, yeah, it is quite a feat to go take four hundred and go to one hundred and twenty. But here's the other the side of the coin that I was talking to Mark about. And he said, you know, I think it was two thousand nine when Greyman first circulating in Hollywood. And he said, you just hand it over and you go, hey, that sounds great. You know, whenever that happens, he goes, you have to and I'm saying this is a reflection of where you are in the process. You just hope it gets done, but you don't really start spending those cashing those checks until it really gets done. Right? Yeah.

And, you know, what I love to do is I love to write novels. I love to create stories. I love writing stand alones because it it gives me an opportunity to bring up new characters. Kira Dugan in her deadly game, you know, new character. It looks like it's gonna be a new series. And I get to create her world, her family, her father, her sisters, And, you know, that's what I love to do as a storyteller as I I love to create novels. Well, I hope it has the success of Cross White because I've read where they had, like, eight million books worldwide, and I'm thinking, you'd that doesn't just happen.

And the thing about this Kiera character is that I love so much is that she is she's that classic combination of She's not Hollywoodized over the top character like, oh, she's a superhero. She's got the foibles like everyone else. But that that family occurs, that dysfunctional family. It's one of those situations when you walk away. You remember those characters, and they live with you for a while. And I'm like, oh, I cannot wait to see what Bob's up to next so that I can see what's gonna happen next. Well, I I appreciate it. It's kind of easy to say, you know, I don't often know. I really don't.

Those characters to a certain extent come from personal experience. I, you know, I had a grandfather that was a binge drinker and saw him at many family occasions where he was drunk. I saw what it did, how it impacted my mom and and some of her siblings. And so, you know, it was just it was an area that I kinda I kinda wanted to explore because, you know, as I've gotten older, I'm sixty two now. You begin to realize that everybody has something. It doesn't matter who it is. You whoever you meet, everybody has something, whether it's, you know, depression, low levels of anxiety, whether it's, you know, family stuff going on. None of us are immune. So I always wanna create a character that is multidimensional. And part of that multidimensional, unfortunately, is the human experience, which is the issues that we all have to deal with. Like, my dog's barking in the middle of an interview. Hey. That's just life, dude. You know? That's just I was amazed at I'm gonna tell a little bit of a story here.

I without being mister Geek because I'm pretty notorious for that. When I get excited about something, I just talk about it. I mean, if you if you don't like it, praise, then I'm in the wrong room. But rarely do I read a book that is so well constructed and so thoroughly captivating right up to the end. But here's the funny thing. I read this, Bob, in three settings.

And the reason I remember distinctly is that I get a book hopefully two weeks before we get the chance to talk. And if if I can work it and I'll get going on it, I had two breakfast readings. And then I had to leave it for a while. Then I came down with a fluke. And so it was last week, got up, woke up at three o'clock in the morning, could not sleep. And I ripped through the entire rest of the book by as the sun was coming up. Uh-huh. And I thought, you know you've got something in your hands when you're in that situation and you're like. You feel like crap and you're like, this book is just taking me out of that misery.

Took a long way to get to the compliment, but there you have it. Well, I I I appreciate it. You know, I have a great I have a a great team, and I'm a really I'm a firm believer in allowing people to do their job. So I have a great copy editor. I have a great developmental editor. I have great agents. I always allow my agents to read the book first because they always have some insight into the types of books I write, the types characters I write and what's gonna make them sing. And so I really believe in the process, and I'm I just have a great team at Amazon Publishing. I mean, everybody is really good about, you know, helping me create the best book I can.

One of the things I noticed with this book and others that I've looked into is the way you start your books because here you go. So I was so taken with this and I had not read any of your work before even though I've followed you. And I think I followed you back from an old thriller ITW in New York. Anyway, so I'm I'm starting to dig into your other books and getting a taste for all these different series so that I can, you know, you can get on Amazon and you can see the first few pages. And I'm like, look at this. He does it every single time and it's the way you start your books.

And I was trying to think of the best way to describe it. It's like I have I've shown up to a party that is already in progress and and I'm I'm in. And the the party's going and I'm just jumping in it. And what I mean by that is there's not all that sometimes not naming an animal and then maybe everyone does it eventually, but there's this unnecessary preamble like like you feel like you have to give me a lot of the back story before I get into the story. That's you don't do that, and that's when I really, really dug about it. You just jump in the stream and get moving? Yeah. I think it was beaten into me, to be honest with you.

There was a a a guy in my in in the eight in the agency, and he was actually the accountant, but he used to love to read my stuff. And he gave me a piece of advice once he said, start forty pages later and end forty pages earlier and for real. And yeah. And, you know, it was really great advice because I have a tendency like everyone else to write my way into a story, write my way into a character, and you don't need to know that. I mean, the reader knows intuitively that if a person is forty two years old when they opened the book. They had a prior life. They had forty one years ahead of that moment that that, you know and so your job is not to give them what happened forty one years earlier. Your job is to give them what's happening at that moment going forward, especially in a thriller. Because that's what a thriller is supposed to be. Right? It's supposed to thrill. It's supposed to you know, you're supposed to get into it. It's supposed to be action. It's supposed to be lively.

And so one of the things that I I really work hard on is going back and cutting all unnecessary stuff. It's not easy sometimes. It's hard. And again, that's where my my developmental editor comes into play. She's very good at at saying, do you need this? And making me forcing me to think, do I need this? Does my and really the question, David, is does my does my reader need this? And if the answer is no, then I cut it.

Here's a be a curious thing. There's so many things popping in my head all at once. So I'm gonna hope I can get them. So let's call this three seventy five. Would you have any idea in your head? Because I'm curious, because you just said this. Let's say that you the first draft, the first draft that's the official first draft. How much do you suppose in that process? Or from a Canadian friends process. Would you would you say that was there and you you got rid of it. So how big was it as to before where it is now? Yeah. So I would I would say that I I do know and I I know pretty well. I I just got through writing a book.

It's a it's a World War two story. It's a long story I won't bore you with. But it's a World War two story. It was four hundred and thirty five pages. And by the time I got done with the edit, it was four hundred and five. I'm working on a book now. It's four hundred and thirty. I guarantee you when I'm done, it'll be about four hundred to four hundred and five. I you know, it's it's I don't know that there's any novel out there that I could write that would be of interest more than about four hundred four hundred pages, which is about ninety five to a hundred thousand words. So it's not anything I shoot for. It's just after twenty five bucks, I have found this is where this is where the the the cutoff is. So I I that's what that's what I would say is I'm gonna usually cut in about fifteen thousand words. Okay. Okay. And so your your ballpark is that ninety five to a hundred. That's probably yeah. Yeah. That's always good to say. Good to know because I'm always curious about things like that. And I always wonder Back to that point about starting out the gate, I have often found in my writing not nearly in the atmosphere of yours is that sometimes you'll you'll feel yourself.

I'll just ramp up. I'll ramp up until I get the motor humming. And then you go back the couple of days later and you go, why don't I just take that whole chunk? And put it on the side and start here. And if I really need it later, I'll come back to it and you never do. Yeah. No. I I I think that's I I think that you're absolutely right. And I I do much the same thing.

When I write my first draft, I don't edit myself. I don't allow that editor to come into my head. I am I'm simply writing organically and I'm letting the characters talk to me and tell me what's happening. Tell me what they're saying. To to the point where you go back, I don't know, you've probably done this. You go back and you read what you've written and you go, Wow. That that's pretty good. Yeah. I broke bad. You know, I surprised myself at times. So I I just let that whatever you wanna call it, I let that music go.

And then when I get the story done, I go back and I look at it and say, what do I really have here? What's really this story about? And that's when I dive into the the editing process and that's a whole different part of your brain. At least for me, it's a whole different part of the brain. And I was gonna say isn't getting the the the gentleman on your shoulder that's sitting there nagging doing that but that really sucks, Bob. You might wanna rethink that. Isn't that the hardest thing in the whole world? Yeah. Without a doubt, I mean, and I I've done that. I have been typing a story. And the the whole time I'm typing, I'm saying, this is crap. This is crap. This is crap. This is crap.

But then, you know, again, you come back the next day and you go, That's so bad. You know, there's there's some things that I can work with. So I just I just let it go. And I, you know, I tell people all the time. I just I just let it go. Let you know, do your research, do all the research you think you need, then stop because we can all get caught up in our own research. But do as much research as you can, you know, and then let it go. And that, you know, you you know this as well, I'm sure after you've written a certain number of books, Story structure becomes in a you understand how a story is supposed to be told in the those moments, those emotional moments you're trying to hit. You know, and and how to end a chapter on a on a what not a cliffhanger necessarily, but something that's gonna get the reader to turn the page yeah. How to have an opening sentence the next chapter that's gonna get them to keep reading. You know, you start to learn those techniques.

I I often say to people, it's no different than golf. I mean, golf has all these different thing, whether you're hitting a driver or an iron or a or a wedge. Everything is different. And you just start to learn as you go and hopefully you get a little better each time. That is so that's such a great analogy too. And it's so funny if you let's say the driver. If all you're thinking about is crushing it with all your mic, you know that you're gonna mess up. Yeah. You're gonna slice it more often than not. But if you and this is the hardest thing in the world. If you just go, you know what? I'm gonna I'm gonna do something novel here, ding dong. I'm gonna let the club do the work. Yeah. Yeah. And it is it's it's really hard because you just wanna grip it and rip it, and it's the worst thing you can do.

And the same thing with a book is you just have to let the story come to you. You know, Christian Hannah wrote in the Nightingale, and it was different than what she had written up to that point. She had written more of romance type novels. And the Nightingale was such as unbelievably great book. And I know Kristen, and I I asked her, I said, you know, Kristen, where did you come up with this story? And she said sometimes great stories just fall in our laps and our job is to get the hell out of the way. Oh. You know, I really think that there's a lot of truth to that. It's you know, stop trying to tell your story and tell the character stories. Yeah.

Two things are fighting for my attention. One of the best phrases you know, your your your company puts out these great little blurbs that go with a book for us, author interviewers on podcast. And this was my favorite. I've read probably fifty quotes, blurbs, I should say, about your books. And Lisa Gardner nailed it. She goes one of the best puzzle books ever.

I race through the pages which are packed full of compelling characters and taught gamesmanship Desperate to learn the answer to this extraordinary thriller, which is both and I love this. It's both a who done it and a how done it. Wow. Yeah. Isn't that isn't that beautiful? I was I was elated really really. And again, humbled. You know, because Lisa Gardner has she's that's a woman that has got some real creds to her. So, you know, to receive something like that from her is really really heartwarming. May and it makes you feel good. You you think to yourself you know, the the book must have something to it because I'm sure you go through those moments where when the book's just about to come out, you're thinking, well, is it really any good? Are they gonna like it? You know one thing I cannot miss because hello folks, are you now you you have to be a chess player. Right? I am not. Oh, okay. Well, hold on. Let me absorb that a second because in this book folks, and you'll notice by some chess pieces on here.

A chess game is woven throughout the whole thing, which I loved. I have toyed with chess. I have attempted it, Bob. I I'm not terribly good. But I appreciate the the the craftsmanship of the game. I love the the the theories behind it and the moves and the strategy And I'm like, well, of course, he knows Chest because he's a former attorney and and and an attorney really is just a great big chest game when you think about it. So he must be amazing. And then you got the Pawn four to go in Queen seven or I'm gonna massacre that. And I'm like, brilliant. And I love the way that you weave it through on a simultaneous level parallel. Yeah. You know, so I I try to challenge myself on every novel. Like, I wrote a Tracy book where every scene was in Tracy's point of view, even though it wasn't in first person. I want I and and, you know, I and I did.

So for this book, just as you said, I knew a lot of really good lawyers that were really good chess players. And they would say to me, I have to be prepared when I'm doing a cross examination or when I'm in trial. For anything that could possibly happen. And playing chess, you know, you may have a game plan and you make a move and your opponent makes a move you did not expect. You're gonna lose. And so you have to know what are the potential options. So anyway, I I knew a lot of attorneys that were really good chess player. So this was a skill I wanted to give Kira? Because I wanted to show that she was both intuitive, that she was adaptable, that she had had all these great this great ability within her to move as she needed to move given what the the the her opponent did.

So I called up a friend of mine that ran a chest foundation. He put me in touch with a guy named Elliott Neff. And Elliott is a grand master. He used to live out here in the Pacific Northwest. Now lives back in South Dakota. And just a really great guy And I said, Elliot, this is what I'm trying to do. I wanna construct a a case, an investigation, and trial that mimics a chess game. So the game in the book is a real game. And if people play it on a board, they're gonna find that it is a real game. And it is actually premised upon a game that he played Elliott played in the US Olympic Chest finals, m one. So, you know, I just had a heck of a lot of fun doing it. It was it was really it was challenging, but it was really fun to do. I I knew that must be a real game because I'm like, if he's gonna go to the d go to the extent of crafting this parallel universe of a game, then you know it's gonna be a legit. And I won't ruin the giveaway here, but I love who she's playing and you don't know who she's playing for quite a bit of time.

Now, here's something because this is a perfect place to insert this question. I'm having coffee this morning with my wife very early and we're talking. And she asked, who's gonna be on the show? And I said, Bob DeGoniette. She goes, oh, okay. Yella, I've I've heard you talk about him. I'm like, yeah, I'm very excited about this.

And she asked, what did he do before he became this writer because I showed her your website and there's all these books. He's, wow. I'm, like, an attorney. Oh, okay. Well, that's cool.

And then I said somewhat, historically, I said, How do you suppose it seems that attorneys make such good writers? And we and she asked, yeah, why do you think that is? And we here's my take, and I wanna see how close I am. So attorneys from what I've read do a great deal of reading. I mean, like supposedly massive amount of reading. Both to prepare and to see what other cases perhaps aligned with the one that you're working on. But the real magic and I thought about this and I love courtroom dramas. Got on television. That's what I grew up watching. I loved it.

So if you're approaching the jury and you have to summarize the case, with intelligence and wisdom and a little bit of showmanship, then you've got to be a great storyteller. And there's my summation. You're on it. Right. I I I think you're absolutely correct. Absolutely correct. I think the the the really good trial attorneys are the ones that can tell us a compelling story. A lot of times, you know, when I was trying cases and doing things, the facts got lost and it was the story that you were able able to tell.

Having said that, I can also say that not every lawyer is a is a good novelist. And part of that is just, you know, the ability to check your ego at the door. And, you know, learn and and take advice and do all those kinds of things. So I know a lot of great lawyers that, you know, our writers. Phil Margolin is a friend of mine and and others as well. I see Scott Terrell and John Grisham are, you know, people used to criticize Christian until they started to realize, man, this guy can really tell a story. Yeah. He's he's he's got great characters and he can tell story. And and that's what this is about. It's about being able to tell a story.

I don't I don't consider myself a Pulitzer Prize winner Winning type of author. But that's not what I aspire for. I aspire to write novels that are compelling and that readers not only will they read them, but that they'll when they're done, they will tell others you really gotta read this book. And that that's that's really what I feel is my job. Yeah. Well, two things here.

Tammy said her closing comment, my wife. She goes, so is this gonna be another one of those books that you say I've got to read? And I always have to go, okay, I know that she's only going to read a certain amount of books during the year, and it's gonna I'm like, yeah. Yeah. This is one of those you have to reset. But I I I'm thinking back to, you know, John Grishman is always the one that everybody quotes because maybe he's one of the first attorney writers that we discovered, and he had such a great selling books out of my trunk of my car story. But I'm thinking of, like, Bill Lande was on my show recently with an impeccable book called All that is minor carry with me. David Ellis -- Mhmm. -- look closer, David Pepper, Joey Hartstone. These are all either current or former attorneys, and they're just fantastic storytellers. So I'm just I'm just amazed. There you go.

Well, you know, I think it goes back to what we talked at the very beginning of the show. Right? They know how to put their butt in a chair and go to work. Yeah. You know, they they know how to put in the time. And I think that's I think that's a skill that is often overlooked in novel writing is it takes a lot of time to sit down and look at a blank screen and say to yourself, I'm gonna fill four hundred pages of, you know, it that's that's not easy to do. And I think, you know, I I learned how to work hard and I think a lot of lawyers are the same. Yeah. I don't think I've there's very few careers Craig, if I'm wrong, that put in the volume of hours as attorneys do. From everything I've ever heard, read, watched, didn't that pretty close to being true? Yeah. Because, you know, what one thing that, you know, everybody needs to keep in mind is is I heard it said one time that, you know, when you submit a manuscript to an agent, she doesn't get to her office and start reading from their slush pile. She gets to her office and she's handling all of her clients. And then in the off hours, she'll read the slush pile after she's tired, etcetera, to fine. So it's the same thing.

When you get to your office, You might go in as a lawyer. You might go in with a game plan. And then the phone rings. And you're totally off that game plan. You know, you're dealing with cases. You're dealing with clients. You're dealing with problems. You're dealing with this, you're dealing with that. Then when the day ends, you might go and start saying, well, I better look at my mail that day. And oh, by the way, your partners are saying, where are your clients? Well, what organizations do you belong to that you're gonna go to after hours lunch ins, dinners to try to drum up business. It's it is. It's a it's a tremendous amount of of work. And you know, like writing books until you hit, you know, that one book hits it's really difficult because you're you're constantly working to bring in clients and and get to get it going. And it's funny.

And I thought about this one I was reading with Kira. You know, she's so knee deep in this case. And all of a sudden, I don't know, maybe two thirds of the way in, there's a reference to well, I've gotta look at my other cases. And I'm like, I'm like, god. Wait a minute. You -- Yeah. -- you have to work on more than one case at a time. Then, of course, like, yeah.

And then I'm thinking, how do how does back to your point, you just made in the world in twenty four hours and you're gonna carve out a family and this at the other. How do you how do you juggle those balls? I don't get it? And a and a a lot of a lot of lawyers don't. A lot of lawyers can't. And I'm I'm you know, I don't know what the percentages are, but, you know, I worked in a great law firm and of the top ten lawyers. All ten were divorced. And, you know, I think that could be a product of a number of things, but I don't think that the hours and and the the commitment helps in that regard. I think there are a lot of birthdays missed, a lot of family events missed, lot of sacrifices. I and I can remember a lawyer telling me that he spent his Christmas Eve one time in in the office preparing for a trial that he had the following Monday. You know, that's that's that's hard. It's really difficult. Yeah.

Well, as we start our way toward wrapping, I wanted there I I've gotta make sure I get my points in. One is ten kids. What in the world was that like? I'm from four and you're from ten. That must have been fun, circles. It was a lot of fun. Yeah. It it was a lot of fun. And it's still a lot of fun.

I go on trips with my siblings. We have great times. And I wanna say a kudos, congratulations, a big old love and hug to your mom. I'll tell you what, moms make the world go around. I lost my mom five years ago and she, like yours, instilled this love of reading in me. To, like, just instead of trying to bury your nose in other stupid things like television at the time, read a good book. And, man, I salute moms who give us that encouragement to not only read good books, but consider writing good books. So Well, I I first of all, my my condolences, and I say that because until you lose a parent, you don't know what it's like for people that have lost a parent. And I lost my dad thirteen, fourteen years ago, and I can honestly say that I think about him every day. Now my mom, I'm even closer to, and God lover, she's still alive at ninety. But, you know, it's hard. Those those days are it's difficult, but those are some of the things I think that are in that well of emotion that we riders can dip into.

People often ask me, why does so many writers get successful at the age of forty or forty five? And I say, what do you what what is really important in your life when you're nineteen and twenty years old that you can dip into and pull out and and have some revelation? I think you have to live life a little bit. And unfortunately, part of living life is losing some of the people you love. Yeah. Yeah. Like my buddy, Don Winslow, says, he was an overnight success at, what, fifty four. So Yeah. I love that.

And and here's funny little thing. I I little known fact, you and I are both born in February. We're both aquarians. Okay. We both lost our father, mine in eighty eight years in o eight. Right. And I don't know. I know it I've read a a blog that you wrote about your father, and I practically lost my shit because it was so beautiful and I thought about my I think about my father every week without fail and he's been gone since eighty eight. And so now having less lost mom and dad, it's amazing the way you look at life. Not to get heavy, but it's You just gotta grab it.

Anyway, I I wanted to say what this is what I wanted to get at is what's something powerful that your dad instilled in you that you carry out could be work ethic, characteristic of your personality, etcetera, that you I know very clearly. I I was with a publisher and I had another publisher come in and back a truck up and offer me a lot of money. And I was at home visiting, and I was trying to make a decision on what to do. And my dad said to me, you know, Bob, there's something to be said for loyalty in life. And if you show loyalty, you'll get loyalty. And I didn't listen to him. And I went for the Brink's truck and it was probably the biggest mistake I've made in my career. I should've listened to my dad because I I have since come to realize how important loyalty is And that's what I mean when I say, I allow people to do their job.

You know, if you're gonna have a developmental editor and you're not gonna allow that that person to do his or her job, you know, what does that say about you? And so I've I've tried to be loyal in in what I do, and that comes from my dad. That's awesome. That's awesome. Well, if I can share mine with your with you he said and he always said this because I was whenever I got in a challenging spot, and my my first career was radio. So I was always hopping from market to market to market. And I'd always I'd fly home and I'd we'd go on a walk around the neighborhood on the beach and I'm like, yeah, what should I do here? Blah, blah, blah, blah. And he said, Sun, just follow your dreams. Just follow your dreams doing what you love and everything else will fall into place. If you chase the things that you think are gonna make you happy. It's not gonna make you happy. And you know what? It was that thing that kind of ignited me early on and I just knew I knew then what I wanted to do and I've always fall in love and it is.

It's so it sounds oh, it sounds like something you'd read on a hallmark card, but it's true. Well, with your voice, I don't know how you could not do radio. You you have one of those voices that people would die for. Do you ever do do you ever do books? Do you ever do you ever do audio books? Yes. I do, and I'd be happy to do your next audiobook -- Yeah. -- since you asked. I'm doing it. Yeah. I love doing audiobooks. Alright. Okay.

And here's since we're talking about advice, something in your book, in your acknowledgments caught my eye, and it's a friend of yours, Doug Harvey. Yes. He was your legal mentor. Yes. And he said and and it's just so I love the way that you honor people, Bob. It's just I know this is who you are. I can sense it. People you can bullshit people about certain things, but the the essence of who you really are and how you leave the world with people and how you make them feel is key. And I I know this about you. Thank you. Yeah. But you said this. You guys are talking to dinner, and I think he's, yeah, he's he's getting sick and he's doing a winery. And he goes, Bob, nothing is guaranteed if there's anything you want to do in life. Do it. Don't wait. Yeah. Doug was Doug was an interesting man.

He was a hard charging, hard drinking. Guys guy ball busting lawyer. I mean, this he was just boom. And I saw cancer knock him down. Like, I've never seen cancer knock down anyone including my dad.

He be and I was just talking to him one day, and he was embarrassed because he had to find a bathroom. He was in the middle chemotherapies and treatments, and I was kinda helping him. And, you know, he was embarrassed and and it was so unusual for me to see that in Doug. And as we talked, that's when he said. He said, you know, I had all these grand plans for him and his new wife, Jane, and he was gonna show her the world, and they were gonna travel everywhere. And then he he got he got sick.

And, you know, it's so true. And and again, it's not it's something that you learn when you get older. I lost my best friend at forty two. He dropped out of a heart attack. And those are the kinds of things in life that you remember. And and hopefully, you learn from you know, my dad had melanoma and he died from it. And so, you know, I go to the dermatologist twice a year, and I always tell people my dad kept me alive. And so, you know, you just you learn from these things, and it's it's hard. But I think you have to respect and honor those people that really make those those significant differences in your life, and Doug was one of those men for me. Yeah. So powerful. Thanks for letting me go down that road. Mhmm.

Well, as I wrap, I always ask my guests and I feel like I could sit here and talk to you forever, but I told you I tried to get in and out pretty quickly so you can get back to your construction guys and your parking docks. Yes. But I would love to hear your best piece of writing advice And you've kinda touched on it through even from the beginning of our chat. And but I know that you and I know that you've asked been asked this a number of times. But man, I I saw always how it is in my show and my a lot of aspiring writers listen to the show, and they always go, man, what what's Bob gonna say? Because, I mean, here's a guy who's done it. So I'd love to hear your take. Yeah.

It's actually pretty simple. Learn the craft. Learn learn the craft. I mean, I wrote for the LA Times, I was a lawyer. I could write, but there is a craft to write in a novel. And there are books out there that can really help you. Christopher Vogler's book the writer's journey. Learn the craft, study the craft, understand how difficult it is, respect how difficult it is, spend the time, you know, to learn how to develop characters that are are rounded. And you will save yourself, well, at least three years of pain and agony, which is what I went through, And I think what a lot like your friend, Don Winslow, what a lot of us authors go through is we sit down and we think I'm gonna write a book, how hard can it be, It's really hard. It's very hard. So I always say learn the craft. Yeah. Very well. But, well, folks, if you'd like to learn more, go to follow him on Twitter as I do at Robert Dugoni.

Robert, thank you for the love that you showed this weekend as we're doing a little promotion on you coming up as we wrap March So appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you for having me. It's been a pleasure. I really enjoyed it. Me too, and I'm I'm so glad we finally connected, and I have a feeling I mean, first of all, this book, her deadly game, is it I have to put it on the top of my list of books so far this year. And it's not just because I got you on the show and I'm saying that. It is just such a riveting because it's not just a legal thriller. I loved the way the family is woven through it and the challenges they're all facing and nobody's perfect and it felt very un Hollywood, and that's what I liked about it. So again yeah. And I hope to have you back on the show again sometime. I would love to be back. Thanks very much. Thanks once again to Bob DeGoni and the book. Her deadly game. What a fantastic interview. So glad we had a chance to finally get together.

Well, folks, I wanna say thank you so much for tuning in. Thank you so much for your kind comments and your letters and suggestions. And also thank you for the growing number of subscribers to our YouTube channel. Very exciting to see people stop it across and join us on the YouTube channel from all around the world. Feel free to drop us a line anytime you like at the thriller zone at gmail dot com. We love getting your letters. Also, feel free to stop by the thriller zone dot com. And there you can sign up for our newsletter and stay in touch with us all the time. So until next time, I'm David Temple your host. I'll see you for another edition of the thriller Zone.

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